Designing for Success: A Recap of eLearning Design Essentials

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Learning a new skill is exciting. Especially when it’s a skill that you know will make your job easier and more rewarding. Join me as I take you through my firsthand experience attending B Online Learning’s eLearning Design Essentials training.

In this blog, I’ll delve into the insights gained and the invaluable lessons learned that have given me the skills to create dynamic, effective online learning experiences.

What’s the course about?

As the name suggests, eLearning Design Essentials is about the fundamentals of eLearning. It explores the multifaceted aspects of undertaking an eLearning project – what is good eLearning, what it isn’t, how it can be used, the ways to tackle an eLearning project, and the importance of good design.

It looks at how eLearning can benefit anyone, and how you can make it interesting and worthwhile for all audiences, even ones that aren’t traditionally suited to eLearning (those who aren’t office-based).

Like any new subject, it’s important to start at the beginning and this course, starts by asking the question – what is good eLearning?

Answering this question will help us determine if what we are dealing with is a learning problem as in many cases, the learning and development issue is a symptom of the real problem.

This valuable insight readjusted my view of training and online learning and helped me to think more broadly (like the trainer, Matt said – almost as if in the role of a learning consultant rather than someone interested in simply churning out more training). It also reminded me to always interrogate the cause of the problem. It’s not always about training; sometimes, it’s about fixing deeper problems, like clunky IT systems.

It’s also worth mentioning that while the course focuses on eLearning, many aspects are useful generally, such as project planning advice and design tips that could be used for any digital content.

Key takeaways

Think of the end user or learner
  • Always keep the learner front of mind by asking how do we create learning that is easy to access and useful? This will ensure you’re developing something they’ll value.
  • How adults learn is different from children and school students.
  • Most adults say they are time-poor (whether true or not) so eLearning must be short and sharp. Focus on the need-to-know information and tailor it to your audience by ensuring it’s culturally specific and relevant.
The three Ms – meaning, motivation, and memory
  • Factor in the three Ms – meaning, motivation, and memory, to ensure your eLearning is a success
  • By incorporating elements of risk and tension, such as presenting challenges or asking probing questions, you can increase motivation and retention.
  • To make the learning experience meaningful and memorable it needs to be relevant and have a Return on Investment (ROI). What will learners gain for their time? It could be as simple as better workflow.
  • Always use authentic examples. By grounding content in real-life examples and contexts, you make abstract concepts more relatable and accessible. Knowledge is inherently contextual, so create learning experiences that resonate with learners’ lived experiences and foster meaningful connections.
Collaboration, evaluation and project planning
  • Brainstorm and consult widely as the problem the executive sees may not be the problem the learner sees. Having all people involved will also give people ownership, making them more likely to participate in the end product or become an advocate.
  • With project planning, the instructional design process is a good place to start. There are many models of efficient, collaborative, and iterative processes.
  • It’s not always easy to get the information you need from SMEs. The trainer shared a great list of example questions to draw out the essential information, demonstrating that you can be creative with your questions to get people thinking outside the box.
  • Learning objectives and program objectives aren’t the same. Learning objectives (what you expect students to demonstrate, must be relevant to them and actionable). Program objectives (what the program is expected to accomplish).
Design principles
  • To achieve those three Ms (meaning, motivation, memory), the content needs to be well-structured and visually appealing.
  • Leveraging existing templates and prototyping tools can streamline the design process while ensuring consistency and coherence.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to templates – there are only so many ways you can design something for a certain effect.
  • Prototype rather than storyboard. It shows people what it will look like, rather than just describing it.

How you can take part

From defining the basics of good eLearning to exploring the importance of digital-first design, I’ve gained invaluable insights into crafting engaging and effective online learning experiences. No longer do I feel daunted by the aspect of creating online learning now that I know the basics and have the tools at hand.

While the above gives you a summary of the key lessons I took away, the course itself is full of many more essentials bits of information, practical examples, guides, and frameworks so I encourage anyone with an interest in eLearning to sign up now.

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